John Locke is a full-time web design freelancer who also co-hosts the WP Tonic Podcast. I asked him some questions about the best and worst parts about full-time freelancing, and he goes in depth below. Enjoy!
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What is the best part for you about Full time freelancing?
The ability to choose who I work with, what I do, and who I serve. In my previous blue-collar career, that freedom didn’t exist. For the last four+ years, I have had the power to control my own destiny in a way that a W2 employee dos not have.
What is the worst part for you about full-time freelancing?
I definitely wouldn’t frame it as the worst part, but the responsibility of running a business falls on my shoulders. If I want to survive and thrive, I have to make sure all the things like marketing, finances, lead generation, and project management are taken care of. The actual “work”, like designing or developing is the last link in the chain, but it often the piece that people focus on the most when they begin working for themselves.
If you’ve worked for an agency or in-house somewhere, what is it you miss about that?
I had a different path than most people did to consulting. I never worked for an agency as an employee, though I’ve collaborated with strategic partner agencies since early in my first year. I never worked in-house, I’ve always been a remote worker. I bet a lot of people will say that they miss being around people, or the camaraderie of being in an office, but I get some of that from things like co-hosting a podcast and going to Meetups. I’ve worked for myself as an independent since day one, so my learning curve on building those agency-like processes has taken a little longer, but I feel like I finally started “getting it” in 2016.
Where do you feel like people actually get more value out of working with an agency than a freelancer?
If you’re a larger company, with a multitude of needs (marketing, design, development, copywriting, SEO, media buys, print assets), then it makes sense to work with an agency. One person is usually not going to be able to cover more than two or three of those needs. If your company has a lot of internal structure, and decisions move at a slower pace, an agency might be a better fit.
Where do you think the value comes for clients who go with a freelancer versus an agency?
Small businesses that are doing less than 1M a year in revenue may get more value from a solo consultant as opposed to an agency. Freelancers are usually more nimble, and can usually schedule things faster than an agency. Solo consultants may also have a specific area of expertise, like SEO, e-commerce, or a specific type of development, and many agencies are more general in their focus. Depending on the freelancer, their project rates are usually lower than that of a full-blown agency. This doesn’t mean you should find the cheapest person possible, because that will also be a waste of time and money. Solo consultants usually work with small businesses, while agencies are usually geared towards mid-market to enterprise level companies